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Why Braceros?

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Why Braceros?

Published ca. 1959

Produced to justify the bracero farm labor program to the general public, especially American citizens in California who felt threatened by the influx of workers over the border from Mexico.

Run time 18:53
Producer Wilding-Butler Division of Wilding, Inc.
Sponsor Council of California Growers
Audio/Visual Sd, B&W


This film was produced to justify the bracero program to the general public, especially American citizens in California who were threatened by the influx of workers over the border from Mexico. It expresses the viewpoint of agribusiness and large farmers. Good footage of agriculture in California, food production and food processing.

CU of harvested wheat on the ground
Camera pans up to combine harvester then driver, looking behind him at wheat being harvested by machine
CU combine harvester, wheat coming in and out in a container, cut into small pieces

CU of rows in a field, legs of a man walking in a row, harvesting by hand

LS of a combine harvester with seven workers on it ; one of them driving, the others are sorting potatoes (?)

LS field, workers bent over to plant seeds, mountains in the background

CU branches, leaves, fruits of a citrus tree, man standing on a ladder picks fruits
LS citrus trees and other workers
MLS of a man emptying a bag of lemons in a box
LS of a man on top of a tree

LS of a field with workers, bent over the ground, the field is muddy
LS of trucks in the background and workers with white cowboy hats putting things in boxes
LS field, camera pans over workers (very numerous)
CU individual worker picking carrots and throwing them in a big tin drum
CU man picking cherries from a tree
CU hand picking lemons

LS field with trenches and workers, superimposed "WHY BRACEROS ?", then "Presented as a Public Service by COUNCIL OF CALIFORNIA GROWERS"

CU "farm placement service", office, woman behind the counter, a man (farmer) walks towards the offices behind the counter and takes his hat off
CU desk, two men talking

MCU dark, saturated B/W image, man behind his desk, picks up the phone and dials a number

CU shop window with writings on it "GROWERS FARM LABOR OFFICE" "REFERRAL SERVICE"

MCU woman in three-quarter profile behind her office desk, picks up the phone, talks, looks through her files in a distracted way
CU photograph of a field of potatoes which are ripe
CU photograph of a man loading potatoes out of container
VS, point of view shots of man with farm placement office's agent behind his desk

CU of the agent's face, white background, lights a cigarette and is being interviewed
His face is serious and nervous, eyes down

LS the farmer's Labor Recruiting Association's office
Director seated behind his desk, black thick mustache and short-sleeved shirt
White blinds in the background
A Mexican subordinate hands paper to the director, the director makes a telephone call

LS street at night with circles of lamplight from street lamps, a white car runs in the street, camera pans the street, a bus is stopped with workers around

LS in a vast Mexican camp, Braceros are spread out and then gather in a circle, around an older man in a suit (Mexican councelor) who is speaking

LS small houses in wood, all identical, then canteen with table in the foreground and cooks in the background
Montage of various photographs
Braceros cured and inspected by doctor
Braceros eating while sitting in a field
Braceros in a shower, smiling
Braceros doing laundry
Braceros playing snooker, watching television
Braceros in the canteen, in a party with Mexican performer on the stage
Braceros in front of the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe
Braceros discussing and laughing

MCU Mexican councelor smiles and shakes the hand of Braceros around him

LS old bus and Braceros step out of it with small parcels under the arm and bare feet
CU of sandles in a Braceros' hand, camera pans to trousers and bare feet
LS old bus being loaded (the deck is full of boxes/bags)
Braceros step in the bus, one by one in line, dressed with western clothes

VS field with braceros, trees with ladder
CU celery being picked and roots cutted off, then same scene with a salad, hands are covered with plastic gloves

Overhead view of a assembly line, Anglo American women, dressed and wearing jewelry, plastic gloves, sorting fruits (oranges?)
MLS of a woman, leaning her back on a container, looking in front of her at an assembly line carrying small boxes away

(transportation industry)
MLS two American men in front of boxes carried away automatically, they are supervising
LS of a truck, boxes piled on the ground
LS of a train carrying goods, a chain of mountains with cloudy sky in the background
LS of a ship in a harbor being loaded

Aerial view of a highway with mountains in the background

LS of a factory, woman supervising assembly line machines, with products filing off
CU of tins on an assembly line
CU oranges on an assembly line
MCU women with headcovers in front of a big container, sorting mussels(?)

VS Braceros harvesting

LS of a building, sign reads "FOOD CENTER" "BAKERY", a man and woman, holding each other, walks from there towards camera, smiling

Overhead view of supermarket interior, line of cashiers, crowded with trolleys

VS of different type of industries (LS transporter's factory)
LS field with bent Braceros

"Produced for Council of California Growers by Wilding-Butler Division, Wilding Inc., San Francisco"

¥ 1:02:18- 1:17:24
Nice image of a man walking down a row of farmland harvesting by hand. We only see his legs and hands as he pulls the produce from the ground. He walks towards the camera and stops right in front of it to pick. At this point, we only see his hands and the dirt.

worth noting: Interesting shot of Mexican laborers bent over in a field picking produce.(1:40:98- 1:47:84)

¥ 1:48:89- 2:05:00
Stoop Labor. Many men are hunched over in a field planting seeds. A farm house and the silhouette of mountains are behind them.

¥ 2:35:42- 2:50:20
Close up of "braceros" (Mexican field laborers) as they pick lettuce (or spinach) and place it in wooden boxes to be piled up on the back of a truck. They wear straw hats.

¥ 3:34:70- 3:59:25
Long shot of Mexican laborers walking up rows of crops stooping over and hand picking produce.

¥ 14:27:40- 14:35:27
Mexican laborers file off a bus at a work station/camp with their belongings.



Reviewer: JayKay49 - favoritefavoritefavorite - January 21, 2012
Subject: Post 2008 Comment
First comment since the big economic kaboom. And still, gringos, many unemployed wont do "stoop labor"...a definition that now extends into all sorts of things like landscape maintenance, roofing, checkers at Wal Mart, ashphalt paving....the list goes on. But today its that continued unemployment check, renewed ad infinitum and food stamps that keeps gringos from anything but "Too big to fire" union jobs or a coosh cubicle job shuffling paper. But never mind. One party has discovered a source of votes needed to keep em in office and they pursue those votes any way they can. So with nominal border guarding all that hassle described in this film to get a Mexican to come over and work is long ago history.

And I didn't see many braceros accompanied by their 36 1/2 week pregnant wife. So that WAS long ago.
Reviewer: Spuzz - favoritefavoritefavorite - September 20, 2005
Subject: Why Wetbacks?
Suspicious Government film that sternly explains why the U.S. Government hires Mexican farm workers. This is all done in a way that seems too official, so the warning flags immediately go up and makes me wonder how much of this is actually true. Whether ALL the farmers went through, it seems, channel after channel to get help for the manual work in the fields. Theres some hilarious interviews by startled government folk about this, and a Mexican counsel, who, in a stunning show of political incorrectness, proclaims that these workers Arent wetbacks! Those are illegal farm workers! Look, theyre still Mexicans pal, do we have to use derogatory names to describe your own people?
Reviewer: chicano - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - April 13, 2005
Subject: Nothing but lies...
This shows nothing but how Mexicans are views as a RESERVE ARMY OF LABOR!!! They are not wanted, but when "domestics" cannot do the job because it is "too hard", they run over to grab some poor Mexican souls.

It is even stated in the video that a Mexican is INFERIOR to the domestic! A commitment by contract can be ignored just like that. Hmm...sounds like today, still being placed INFERIOR!

Open your eyes...don't believe the lies!!!
Reviewer: dynayellow - favoritefavorite - September 4, 2003
Subject: Braceros: The workers of fate
Dry as toast film informing the public of the need for Mexican workers to work the worst jobs of the harvest season. Goes into the details of how they may be hired and how much they are paid (surprisingly, the same as Americans doing the same work).

Interviews with people who work with the agencies that do the hirings. These non-actors look very uncomfortable, and one even lights up just before talking.
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